Gongol.com Archives: January 2012
Brian Gongol


January 31, 2012

Computers and the Internet Why it's important to control your online reputation
The principal at Valley High School (in West Des Moines, Iowa) is being spoofed by someone using his name on a fake Twitter account. He ignored the problem early. Now the clown who started the account is putting up anti-Semitic messages, and there's nothing the principal or the school district can really do about it. The account is down now, though it's not clear whether that was a voluntary thing or if Twitter took action on its own. Regardless, the fact that the principal had to contact the company to ask that the account be removed illustrates just how important it is that people -- particularly those in the public eye or who deal with large groups, like school authorities -- get ahead of the curve and assertively manage their own online reputations. You don't want the most prominent search for your name to turn up a fake Twitter account -- or a bunch of news stories in which someone using your name was saying malicious things. Anyone with reasonable concern about these kinds of hazards can take action: Set up a LinkedIn account and make it public. Get a Twitter handle and post to it occasionally -- and do the same on Google Plus. Register your given name as a domain name and either set up a website or point that domain name to one of your accounts. Only the domain name costs anything ($10 a year), and among those actions, one can very quickly (and legitimately) take up the first four or five spots in a search for one's name. It probably sounded like a remote problem in the past. Today, it's essential.

Business and Finance Is there bias among the academics who discuss executive pay?
It's a hot and recurring topic in economics: How should shareholders pay the executives who manage their companies? Even an average senior research seminar in college is likely to find at least one student inquiring about the subject. But nobody has broken down the issue of executive pay more thoughtfully and clearly than Warren Buffett in his 1985 letter to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett clearly argues that fixed-price stock options create an incentive for executives to retain and then basically just sit on the profits they make, rather than using them thoughtfully, reinvesting or distributing those profits as dividends: "Managers regularly engineer ten-year, fixed-price options for themselves and associates that, first, totally ignore the fact that retained earnings automatically build value and, second, ignore the carrying cost of capital. As a result, these managers end up profiting much as they would have had they had an option on that savings account that was automatically building up in value." The entire letter is well worth the reading.

Business and Finance More evidence that the economy is very different from one part of America to another
There's a housing shortage -- yes, shortage -- in Pender, Nebraska. Employers are hiring and don't have any place for their employees to live.

Health Sometimes the world needs a little behavior that looks like a violation of anti-trust rules
Pharmaceutical companies are going to collaborate on producing medicines that will combat tropical diseases. The collaboration, partially at Bill Gates's behest, will try to knock down diseases found in places that aren't usually big markets for the pharmaceutical companies. The cooperation would probably otherwise look like a case for an anti-trust lawyer, but nobody's likely to complain.

Business and Finance Anyone who bets on stocks using technical charts deserves to get burned
A Reuters report on today's stock market used this completely incomprehensible jibberish: "The flat close with wide intraday moves in both directions describes a 'long-legged doji' pattern on a Japanese candle stick chart and is seen as a sign of uncertainty and indecision on the part of investors." What a bunch of hogwash. Either a company is worth buying or it is not. Looking for patterns hidden within stock charts to divine some kind of "market-beating" stock-picking strategy is the kind of gambling that should stay in the casino, where it belongs.

The United States of America The full 2012 primary and caucus calendar

Iowa Differences in Iowa power rates: Municipal vs. co-op vs. investor-owned utilities

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